I looked out the window of my Turkish bus and my stomach seized up in knots. My eyes focused in on the field of yellow sunflowers and I was immediately reminded of how I spent my last summer – driving through endless fields of sunflowers through Central Asia on my way to Mongolia. My mind took flight immediately wandering rapidly through the memories picking out only the best ones to linger on. And then the longing began. I wish I was doing the Mongol Rally again. I wish I was back in that crappy little, hot, dirty car. I wish I was with Dave and Deb driving across Kazakhstan stressed out and feeling absolutely alive and energized as I teetered along my edge of fear and excitement like a tight rope for 5 weeks.
We traveled rapidly through 13 countries not really able to absorb any culture beyond the gas stations where we did most of our socializing with locals. Languages changed, money changed, driving rules changed at a fast pace but it was invigorating.
Passing The Torch
But this summer has different plans for me and as much as I long to do the Mongol Rally again, I know that I had my time and now it’s time cheer on others this year. And I’m not just cheering on other random people, I have some very good friends who are participating this year. I have been following their ups and downs as they search for sponsors and deal with the most frustrating thing of all – getting a car and wading through all of the foreign paperwork associated with buying it and driving it across a couple of continents.
My friends Pamela and Charlie are an all female Mongol Rally team (who know absolutely nothing about cars) are taking off following our car tracks from last summer. To top it off, they are learning how to drive a manual transmission car as I type this only a couple of weeks before the start of the rally.
I know what you are thinking…why are there 3 women pictured on the logo but you said there are only two of them? Ahhhh – the fun has already begun and what started as a 3 person team has already been reduced to 2. In typical Mongol Rally style…the drama has already started before they even drove a mile and they booted a teammate – aren’t you interested in what else is going to happen as they drive 10,000 east?
Why Are They Doing This?
first and foremost these women like an adventure and the unconventional. Second – they are a bit crazy (they are my friends after all). Third because they want to meet men (ok – I’m making that assumption and considering the number of men to women involved in the rally – their odds are superb), Fourth because they are supporting the charity the Lotus Children’s Center in Mongolia. Fifth – because I convinced them it would be fun…heehee.
They have made it through some of the hardest parts so far – the preparation – visas, a route (which of course I know probably won’t matter once they get going), a car, and sponsors. I’m so impressed with some of the sponsors they have on board – some familiar faces that we worked with last year as well as new ones who are providing them data connectivity, and hostels.
The Plea For Your Help
However what they still need to do is raise money for their charity, the Lotus Children’s Center. The center works to aid street kids and abandoned babies in Ulan Bator, Mongolia – a worthy cause in such a tough country. Charlie and Pam know as well as I do that people rarely give out of the kindness of their hearts – especially to people they don’t know and for causes they aren’t familiar with. But Charlie and Pam have devised a way for you to personally get something for your donation in addition to warm fuzzy feelings. If you give $75 to their charity then you’ll get your very own Mongol Rally Mystery Crate. What’s in it…duh…it’s a mystery – but here are some possibilities:
• Postcard signed by the Mafia / or funky postcard
• A piece of our car (an extra bolt, spring, sprocket after a repair)
• A scarf from the Silk Road
• Local spices
• Tacky Russian figurine I won in a bet
• Set of Matyoshka Dolls from Russia
• Caviar from the Caspian Sea
• Watercolor from Prague
• Tea towel from Ukraine
• Drinking horn from Georgia
• A wooden stake to thwart Count Dracula
• A 5×7 print from our original, incredible photography
• Kazakstan Policeman’s badge
• Pinecone from Siberia
• Mongolia Yak bone bracelet
If $75 is too much – then simply throw them $10 and help them towards their goal. Last year I was able to raise $5000 from little donations – mainly because I have awesome friends and followers!
If you still aren’t sure if you want to give, then ‘try before you buy’. Simply follow their travels for the first two weeks and if it provides you even 5 minutes of entertainment that brightens your day then give.
Need more prodding – then check out this great video Charlie put together explaining their team, the rally, and the mahem:
So even though I may not be able to provide the crazy excitement this summer – these two women will! You really don’t want to miss their adventure starting in the Czech Republic going through Slovokia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and then to Istanbul where I will get to see them for a couple of days and drink raki with them listening to the tales of the men they’ve loved and left behind already.
Follow their every gear-grinding move on Twitter (@charliegrosso @spunkygirllogue #SMStowaway) and Facebook starting TODAY!
Remember, you too can get involved in the action by donating $75 and they will send you a Mystery Crate from their Turkmenistan prison cells…oops – I mean post office.